The 10 Best Places To Live In Australia 2023

Find the best places to start a new life in Australia with Expatra's official rankings. Compiled by expats for expats.

The Land Down Under is home to sprawling modern cities, unique wildlife, vast countryside, and some of the best beaches in the world.

It’s also a country where local celebrities attend sports of the teams they own (Russell Crowe), and you’ll see prime ministers going for walks in green and gold tracksuits.

With so much on offer, it can be hard to decide on the best place to relocate to.

Not to worry, we’ve put together a list of the top spots for expats.

Our list will help you find your new Aussie home regardless of your reasons for your move.

Pro Tip: Be mindful about asking an Australian where to live. Aussies are very competitive, which means they probably think where they live is the best place in Australia. You’ll need to do your research – which is where we come in. 

Best cities to live in Australia

We’ll start with the best cities to live in and then take a look at some of the alternative places to live in Australia if you’re looking for something a bit different.

1. Melbourne: best for culture

Melbourne is widely regarded as the cultural capital of Australia (unless you ask Sydney siders), and it’s no surprise that it held the title of the world’s most livable city for 7 years in a row, ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global liveability index. 

Best places to live in Australia - Melbourne - Sunset over the Yarra River
Sunset over the Yarra River in Melbourne

Some of Australia’s cities have a multicultural feel, but none do it quite like Melbourne.

This is thanks, in part, to the large immigrant population who have brought their food and cultures from all around the globe.

What this means is that you’ll find world-class cafes and restaurants with food from all over the world and, if you ask the locals, the best coffee in the world. 

Considered Australia’s sporting capital, it’s also home to Australia’s unique brand of football – Aussie Rules.

Sometimes described as aerial ping pong, the Aussie Rules final has one of the largest numbers of attendees of any domestic competition on earth.

Good luck learning the rules, though. 

Outsiders refer to Melbourne as the hipster capital of Australia, which is fairly accurate.

Despite their strange fashion choices, hipsters tend to bring some pretty cool venues – like Easey St. Smoke Out in Collingwood.

This is a bbq restaurant in a motorcycle workshop, which is hidden down a narrow laneway underneath an edgy gallery. It really doesn’t get more Melbourne than that. 

The pros of living in Melbourne:

  • Considered the ‘London of Australia’: diverse, welcoming and is regarded as a meeting point for people from around the globe.
  • Plenty of activities: world-class nightlife, live sports, and more to keep anyone entertained.
  • Lifestyle: allows for a great balance of things to do without feeling packed in.

The cons:

  • Colder winters: summers are great and warm. However, winters can be colder than in other parts of the country.
  • Property prices: competitive property market results in higher prices, especially for renters.
  • Costs: expect entertainment, going out, and some items to cost more than they would otherwise in regional areas.

2. Adelaide: best all-rounder

Adelaide doesn’t get as much attention as other major cities like Sydney or Melbourne, and this is probably due to its size.

However, this is actually one of its greatest selling points!

What it may lack in numbers, it more than makes up for with the amazing lifestyle it offers its residents.

Best places to live in Australia - Adelaide -Jacaranda tree-lined Allinga Street in Glenside.
Jacaranda tree-lined Allinga Street in Glenside, Adelaide.

The good weather, affordable property prices, wide range of activities, country feel, and quality education make Adelaide a great location for families. 

The majority of the 1.3 million Adelaide residents prefer the suburban areas over being clustered in the city. It means living closer to the coast with the city on your doorstep without the metropolitan price tag. 

Food is a big part of life here, with a massive amount of food trucks, quality restaurants, and eateries all close by. 

The arts are big here, too, thanks to a thriving music and theatre scene, along with the annual Adelaide Fringe Festival.

Plus, the outdoor activities are endless, with hiking, surfing, and everything in between on offer. 

The pros of Adelaide:

  • Diverse lifestyle: a unique place where you can experience quaint country life, coastal escapes and metropolitan life all in one city.
  • Work-life balance: the slower pace of life makes it a perfect place to escape the rat race.
  • Wine region: the Barossa Valley is a short distance from Adelaide for those who fancy a quality drop.

The cons:

  • Job market: it can be tricky to find a job as an expat – particularly for unskilled workers.
  • Small-town vibe: a bit lacking in a number of areas, such as shopping and business opportunities.
  • Connections: public transport can sometimes be infrequent, and domestic flights from the airport can be pricey.

3. Hobart: best for families

The capital of Australia’s island state, Tasmania offers an amazing opportunity to live an idyllic family life.

Don’t believe the stories from mainland Aussies. No one here has three heads. 

Best places to live in Australia - Hobart - Horseshoe waterfalls in Mount Field National Park in Tasmania
Horseshoe waterfalls in Mount Field National Park in Tasmania

Tasmania is home to stunning natural scenery, ancient forests, and beaches. At its heart is Hobart, where housing is some of the cheapest in Australia. 

If you are into small-town living, you will love Hobart.

The schools are great, and Tasmania is considered incredibly safe, as it is often forgotten by the rest of the world. Life is slow here, allowing time to enjoy life, hobbies, and time spent with loved ones. 

Your commute from the office will be much shorter thanks to both the shorter distance to travel and the absence of traffic.

This means more time at home with your family. 

There is plenty of arts and culture along with museums and natural surroundings to be explored.

Spend your weekends hiking, at the beach, or exploring the booming culinary options.

Plus, some even consider Tasmania as home to the best coffee in Australia – unless you ask people in Melbourne, of course. 

The pros of Hobart:

  • Landscape: Tasmania is simply beautiful. The scenery is stunning, the air is clean and the water is pure.
  • Community: a real sense of community. People here are friendly and hail from all corners of the globe, united by their location in this quiet corner of the world.
  • Family-friendly: affordable housing (roughly 30% cheaper than Sydney on average), safe community, great schools.

The cons:

  • Job market: certain sectors like hospitality and education have opportunities, but other industries are lacking.
  • Housing: houses are affordable but hard to come by. There simply aren’t many houses in Hobart so make sure you’ve secured your home before arriving.
  • Weather: cold winters with temperatures often getting as low as single digits. A winter coat is a must. And a scarf too.

4. The Blue Mountains: best for country life

Love countryside living?

Head along the Blue Mountains, and you’ll find a string of small towns offering a taste of life in the Australian countryside. 

Best places to lve in Australia - Bathurst - A pond in Machattie Park
A pond in Machattie Park in Bathurst.

Katoomba has a very creative spirit and is home to the annual winter magic festival.

Nearby, Leura, a local secret, also has many charming boutiques and cafes. 

Further along the road, you’ll find Bathurst and Mudgee.

Bathurst hosts one of the largest car racing events of the year, the Bathurst 1000 where one driver will be crowned ‘King of the Mount’.

Bathurst also has a decent student population, which brings life into the town with cultural festivals and events each year. 

It has everything you would need, affordable property and plenty of space to have the peace and quiet offered by the country. 

Most of the towns in and around the Blue Mountains are all within a two-and-a-half-hour drive of Sydney. 

Schools are decent in the area, with state and private schools available, making it a good choice for families. 

The pros of living in the Blue Mountains:

  • The quiet: peaceful countryside living and incredible starry nights.
  • Cost of living: much cheaper than in the major cities, especially when it comes to property.
  • Traffic: It just doesn’t exist out here, there aren’t enough people.

The cons:

  • Job market: there are not a lot of professional opportunities on offer.
  • Community: closer-knit communities. The people are nice, but breaking into long-existing groups can sometimes be tricky.
  • Public transport: a car is a must as public transport is scarce.

5. The Sunshine Coast: Brisbane – Best coastal location

It’s hard to go wrong with coastal locations in Australia, as it’s home to some of the best beaches in the world.

However, the biggest issue is that you’re spoiled for choice – there are just too many to choose from.

Best places to live in Australia -Queensland - Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast
Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

That being said, you can’t go wrong with the Sunshine Coast. Located north of the state capital Brisbane, it’s not as popular with tourists as the Gold Coast, allowing you to enjoy your idyllic beach life in peace. 

Probably the most famous location is Surfers Paradise, with its high-rise skyline and the 322-meter-high Q1 Building with its SkyPoint observation deck.

Surfers Paradise Beach - Gold Coast Australia
Surfers Paradise Beach – Gold Coast Australia – Unsplash

Noosa Heads is a more populated area, but there are other smaller towns nearby with equally nice stretches of sand.

Mooloolaba, Caloundra, and Buddina are also popular.

Life is relaxed here, and the cost of living is very affordable, especially if you avoid the more affluent areas popular with local tourists.

Plus, you’re a short distance from the bustle of Brisbane, so you can escape to the city whenever needed. 

The pros of the Sunshine coast:

  • Coastal living: beautiful beaches on your doorstep.
  • Lifestyle: life here is so relaxed you can unwind without even trying. The cost of living is also very affordable.
  • Airport: Brisbane international airport is a short distance away, making both domestic and overseas flights easily accessible.

The cons:

  • Job market: There are not a lot of professional opportunities on offer.
  • Tourism: During the high season, there can be a lot of tourists.
  • Public transport: The Sunshine Coast is not as well connected with public transport as other parts of the country.

6. The Central Coast: best for retirees

The Central Coast is a collection of neighboring seaside towns located just over an hour’s drive north of Sydney and is a great area if you are planning to retire to Australia.

Best places to live in Australia -  Avoca Beach on the Central Coast, New South Wales
The blue waters of Avoca Beach on the Central Coast, New South Wales.

Gosford is the largest town, with the biggest train station offering connections to the CBD (Central Business District – effectively, the city center).

What makes this a great area for retirees is the lifestyle.

Spend your days enjoying the sun, walking along the beach, exploring parks and nature reserves, playing bowls at an RSL club, and enjoying the many shops, cafes, and restaurants. 

Property is affordable, and there are many retirement communities where you can live in affordable accommodation in a quiet, contained neighborhood.

You also have your pick of beautiful locations, including Avoca, Copacabana, Terrigal, McMasters, Pearl, and Kincumber.

They offer varying proximity to the coast and green bushland, with larger properties available as well. 

There are also excellent public and private healthcare options available to give you peace of mind.

The proximity to Sydney is a massive plus.

Tip: Seniors discounts are frequent in Australia – simply ask when out and about! 

The pros of living on the Central Coast:

  • Coastal lifestyle: the clean air, sun, and natural surroundings are the perfect way to enjoy your golden years.
  • Property: there is a wide variety of properties on offer to suit any lifestyle choice
  • Cost of living: everyday items and going out on the central coast is very affordable – ideal for retirement.

The cons:

  • Job market: jobs are limited, so if you are looking for opportunities, you will likely need to commute to Sydney.
  • Public transport: getting to either Newcastle or Sydney is easy however, public transport is limited between the smaller towns. A car is recommended.
  • Property: depending on the area you choose, some houses can be quite expensive.

7. Sydney: best for job opportunities

No doubt you’ve heard of Sydney – Australia’s largest city and home to the iconic Sydney Opera House.

As the economic capital of Australia, with many local and international businesses setting up an office here, it offers many career opportunities.

Best places to live in Australia - Sydney - The Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge connects the city center to North Shore’s wealthy suburbs, with Kirribilli at the forefront.

When you aren’t working, you can visit iconic Sydney Harbour (home to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House), soak up the sun on Manly or Bondi beach, or shop to your heart’s content – all while sipping delicious coffee. You won’t find a Costa here, and you won’t miss it!

Are you a foodie? Sydney is definitely the place to be.

You have a wide choice of world-class restaurants here. Tip: visit Queenies in Surry Hills if you like jerk chicken.

Live sport is also a massive feature of life in Sydney, with multiple world-class stadiums and venues hosting regular events.  

Sydney can be tricky to get around.

The roads are a bit of a maze, and traffic, especially in peak hours, is heavy.

There is, however, an efficient and affordable public transport system.

This includes trains, buses, and ferries.

Unlike the UK, regional trains and buses aren’t ridiculously priced. 

Discover more in our Best Places To Live In Sydney guide.

The pros of Sydney:

  • Weather: summers without the humidity of the north and more mild winters.
  • Opportunity: finding work is much easier than in other parts of the country, especially for young, skilled professionals.
  • Lifestyle: Sydney offers a diversity of lifestyles unmatched by most major cities of the world.

The cons:

  • Expenses: Sydney is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world. Expect to pay more for everyday items, going out and housing.
  • Traffic: Reliance on cars causes massive amounts of congestion on a regular basis.

8. Perth: best for expat communities

Located on Australia’s west coast, Perth is a laid-back city with excellent weather and great beaches.

The city is green, with trees and parks everywhere you look. 

Best places to live in Astralia - Perth - Elizabeth Quay Bridge
Elizabeth Quay Bridge in Perth.

As any city, Perth offers its residents plenty of cultural attractions, culinary options, and sporting events without the congestion of larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

The quality of life here is quite high, thanks to the weather, abundance of outdoor activities, and affordable cost of living. 

The biggest draw is the massive expat community.

Some estimate that expats make up as much as a third of Perth’s population, with the largest groups coming from the UK and South Africa.

These communities are active, connected, and welcoming, meaning you have someone on the inside to help with the transition. 

The pros of living in Perth:

  • The great outdoors: one thing you will benefit from massively in Perth is an outdoor lifestyle. Clean air, sun, sea and sand – it’s good for the soul.
  • Cost of living: Perth is much more affordable than other major Australian cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
  • Community: the expat community can make settling into your new life in Perth much easier.

The cons:

  • Laidback: The slower pace can be an adjustment for those coming from larger cities.
  • Limited jobs: jobs are available, but after the peak of the mining boom, this is limited to certain sectors.
  • Isolation: Perth is not only a massive distance from the rest of the world but the rest of Australia too.

9. Canberra: The cosmopolitan capital city

Canberra is a fantastic city to live in!

It has a thriving café culture and abundant green spaces and parks.

As well as having a high employment rate, Canberra offers fantastic opportunities for university graduates seeking careers in government and related institutions.

Hot air balloons over Canberra's lakes
Hot air balloons over Canberra’s lakes – Rossie Steggies – Unsplash

Canberra’s lakes, architecture, and cultural events make for a wonderful living experience, with plenty of events to visit and places to explore throughout the year.

The international airport in Canberra helps expats to stay well connected to friends and family living elsewhere in the world.

Expats living in Canberra can enjoy many attractions, such as the National Gallery of Australia, or take advantage of its distinctive shopping experiences, which include designer fashion boutiques and outlets set near the lakefronts.

You’ll also find plenty of restaurants offering an array of cuisines from around the world.

Canberra’s Climate

The weather in Canberra is mild year-round, and there are low levels of pollution, making it one of the most livable cities on Earth with a very high quality of life.

Canberra has a more affordable property market

You’ll also be pleased to know that the real estate market offers better value for money than other capital cities in Australia, making it more cost-effective to rent or own property than elsewhere in Australia.

Overall, living in Canberra as an expat means you’ll be living in a vibrant city that has a lot to offer: excellent employment opportunities, cultural events, modern infrastructure, and services, plus natural beauty, all rolled into one package!

10. Cairns – Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef

Cairns is a very special city to live in!

While Cairns is a relatively small city with a population of around 150,000 people, it offers a lot, from breathtaking natural beauty to modern infrastructure and great amenities for family life.

Best Places To Live In Australia - Cairns - Cairns City Aquarium
Cairns City Aquarium – David Clode – Unsplash

Located in tropical Far North Queensland, Cairns has a unique climate and environment that makes it the perfect location for anyone who wants to experience something different from what most other cities deliver.

Cairns Climate

The weather in Cairns gets very sticky and hot in the summer (December – February), with an average maximum temperature of 30C (85F) and 62 percent humidity.

In winter, if that’s the right word, you can still expect temperatures in the mid to high 20s (75-85F), but the humidity will be less, and the rain subsides from April onwards.

The Great Barrier Reef

The iconic Great Barrier Reef is just a short boat ride away from Cairns, providing residents with endless opportunities for marine-based activities such as snorkeling or scuba diving.

In the city center itself, you can find a vibrant nightlife scene featuring various bars and clubs which attract people of all ages.

Cairns is also home to some of Australia’s best restaurants offering diverse cuisines such as Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai food.

There are plenty of things to do during the day, too – such as visiting museums or art galleries, checking out flea markets, and taking part in cultural events like the White Night Festival or the Saltwater Murri Festival.

The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway gives you a brilliant way to enjoy the rainforest as you travel over the canopy.

There are also plenty of opportunities to go for hikes or horse riding in the rainforest, which can be an exhilarating experience.

For lazy days with the family, you’ll have easy access to Cairns’s many beaches.

For a small city, Cairns offers pretty good job opportunities and has a strong local economy, which services tourism, education, and health sectors.

The real estate market in Cairns is very active. With research and time invested, you can find affordable housing options that should meet your needs.

What is the best country town to live in Australia? 

‘Goldilocks’ towns are places in Australia where you can have the ‘best country town lifestyle’.

To qualify, these towns need to have more than 2000 people and score well on a number of factors, such as unemployment rates and quality of life.

Another factor is average income. 

A winner in recent years is the town of Griffith, located in the state of New South Wales.

With a population of just under 20,000, there are just enough people to have peace and quiet without feeling lonely. 

What is the cheapest state to live in? 

The cheapest states to live in Australia are Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia.

However, this isn’t a simple question to answer as there are a lot of factors to consider. Of the major cities, Adelaide is regarded as the cheapest city to live in and is the state capital of South Australia. 

Where do most expats live in Australia?

Perth has been incredibly popular with expats for years, with roughly a third of the population estimated to be made up of migrants.

Other popular destinations include Sydney and Melbourne, particularly for young people and professionals. 

Wherever you are considering a move, there is bound to be a social media group where you can connect with fellow expats. 

What is the safest town in Australia?

In 2019, Sydney was named the safest city in Australia and was ranked as the 5th safest city in the world on The Economist’s 2019 Safe Cities Index.

Melbourne was ranked 10th in the same year. Australia, as a country, is generally considered a very safe place to live. 

The best places to live in Australia – summary

Thanks to its size and the diversity of its land and lifestyle options, Australia offers all kinds of expats the chance to live the life they’ve always dreamed of.

Where you choose to settle in Australia will depend on your reasons for moving, but one thing is for sure – you won’t be disappointed.

The reason so many Australians never leave home is that they have everything they need.

So, where will you go in the land down under? 

You might find useful:


  1. Canberras climate is the least “mild” city in Australia. It gets down to -5°C many days in winter and up to 37°C in summer,

  2. Just watched a House Hunter Intnl show, and this couple settled on Katoomba next to the Blue Mountains. I loved the looks of the area. I’m 81, retired in central Arkansas (hilly with lots of trees, lakes, etc). How difficult would it be for me to move to the area around Katoomba? I prefer more rural, quiet, peaceful, yet close to at least grocery shopping and an occasional eating out place. I’m in good health, like to walk and be outdoors.
    Any suggestions??

    • Katoomba itself is great. It has views, walks, good facilities, and amenities. You will have access to a hospital, library, shops, and a leisure center. You can also consider the suburbs: Leura, Medlow Bath, and Megalong. For a more peaceful environment go a bit further east to Wentworth Falls. It is close enough to Katoomba to have access to all the facilities while having lots of unspoiled natural attractions.

      Whatever you choose, good luck with your move

  3. Hi Jack,

    We’re a family of 5 wanting to hopefully relocate to Australia from the UK. Where would you say is the best place for a really good, friendly, family community? We love good scenery with plenty of things to do. We’re not into too much hustle & bustle but also don’t like it too quiet or remote. My husband is in a skilled job (qualified project manager, Business Analyst, automation etc) to name a few. I have been a Support Worker for nearing on 18 years, working with all ages & disabilities. Any advice/tips would be great. My husband has family in Perth

    • Hi Katie,
      If you have family in Perth, that may well be the way to go. It’s always easier to settle and make Australia your home when you’ve got family nearby. While it’s Australia’s most remote city, it’s a brilliant place for a family, and your husband won’t have any problems with his career, the same with care worker skills which are also in demand. Perth is well worth a visit if you’ve not been already – this website is helpful

      Best of luck if you make the move!

  4. Helpful to know , reading the article has helped , Looks like Melbourne is too cold than Brisbane?. I am moving from 🇬🇧 UK , and I have many friends in Melbourne that’s where I was thinking to settle to and none in Brisbane. But the weather in Melbourne is giving me second thoughts ?

    • Hey Patricia, glad you liked the article! Melbourne may be colder in winter than Brisbane, but it certainly won’t be as bad as the winters that you’re used to in the UK. I would suggest starting in Melbourne. You’ll get great summers and having friends around will only help you to enjoy your new home more.

      You can always visit Brisbane to see if you prefer it once you arrive! Both are great cities, so you certainly can’t go wrong!

      • Great article and insight, much appreciated. Which state(s)/city(ies) in Australia would would you recommend for housing affordability with great education (schools and university), as well a moderate temperatures ( not too cold,not too hot) . Thank you 🙂 Jason

        • Hey Jason,
          Thanks for your comment!
          Central Queensland is probably the best option considering what you are looking for.
          Depending on which lifestyle you prefer, you can either choose to live in the city of Brisbane or pick a suburb in the surrounding areas of Sunshine or Gold Coast.
          Here you will enjoy pleasurable weather all year round, excellent educational facilities (especially around Brisbane city and inner suburbs of Gold Coast) and accommodations suitable for every budget.
          I recently wrote two articles that focus on these 2 main areas (Brisbane and Gold Coast).
          You can check them out here and here
          If you need more suggestions or extra information please do not hesitate to reach out!
          Thank you.

  5. I’m looking to spend 3 month in Australia, 3 month in USA and the rest in England. I want somewhere warm and with n8ce beaches in Australia. I’ve been to Gold Coast and Melbourne, Whitsunday and few other places. I love Surfers Paradise however the see is little too harsh for me. I was considering Peeth though never been there. I’m will be retiring but not interested in places that are too quite. I loved Melbourne
    Any advice please

    • @Hatice,
      Hi Hatice,
      The good news is that you’re spoiled for choice. Based on the reasons you’ve stated, I think you’d enjoy Perth. Coffs Harbour is an area with great beaches in Northern NSW and a growing community with a similar atmosphere to Melbourne (just on a slightly smaller scale). Other locations in NSW that you might light would be the central coast region or perhaps Woollongong (Both are a short distance from Sydney). The Sunshine is another area that you’d enjoy.
      I hope this helps!

  6. Hi Helen,

    I have quite a few friends who have really enjoyed living there. Newcastle would be a good fit for what you’re looking for – although the winter can be a bit colder, but still mild (averaging lows are around 10° in the winter months).

    Other locations that are a bit smaller, but still offer similar benefits would be Gosford, or the areas between there and Newcastle (Avoca, Terrigal). This part of the country is known as the ‘Central Coast’. You could also look into Nelson Bay, which is just under an hour north of Newcastle.

    I hope this helps and good luck with the move!

  7. Hi Jack

    What do you think about Newcastle as a place to relocate to, if you are 50ish, currently live in a medium sized city in NZ, are looking for warm weather all year round and a good work / life balance?

  8. Hi jack! This is great full of wonderful information that I would have had to have done lots of research on my own to put together. Have you written any information that you could link to perhaps, for a person over 50 who is still working vigorously and career-minded, not even close to retiring?:-) is there a chance or is it a long shot? LOL

    • Hi Tamara, thank you for your kind feedback! I haven’t written anything about this topic, but I would say that the opportunities are there but will vary depending on the industry you’re looking to enter, and a few other factors (sorry, I know that’s vague). You would need to do a bit of digging depending on where you plan to move – but I would start your search in larger cities (as there will be more opportunities by default).

  9. Jack,
    I absolutely loved this article. I’m a university student in the US and a citizen as well looking to get my masters in nursing in Australia. I was told by friends that Melbourne was the place to live. I loved this because it was informational on all the places you could pick in Australia. I also liked that it was recent because it gives me an idea of what things are like now. So thank you Jack for this great article!

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